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unexpected blessing in life, God led you to reflect with new emotions on the number and magnitude of his gifts, and your own unworthiness; and thus the goodness of God has led you to repentance. Or, as you mingled with the people of God in the house of prayer, he blessed you with such a view of the glorious beauty of his holiness, as carried you captive with delight and love, and at the same time made you abhor yourself, and repent in dust and ashes. The Spirit of God has many ways of bringing the soul to the footstool of mercy, a sincere penitent; but in some way or other he must do it, or we are lost. The Bible addresses every man as a guilty wanderer from God, ready to perish; and even a child can see that we can never be in a right state, and of course not in a safe or happy state, without a penitent and thorough forsaking of sin. This penitence, if true, will spring not so much from a sense of the ill consequences of sin, as from a view of the goodness and holiness of our heavenly Father, and the manifold guilt of sin against him.

I have no doubt that this is the state of mind of many of those who will read this chapter; and the question, “How shall I find the way to my heavenly Father?" is one in which you feel a deep concern. The answer to this inquiry is, return, like the prodigal son, with penitent, broken-hearted confession: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am not worthy to be called thy son." Confession of sin is the same in its nature and tendency when made to God as when made to your fellow-man. When you have finished this chapter, then, shut the book, go alone before your Maker, and search out, reflect upon, and penitently acknowledge all your sins. Acknowledge them frankly and fully, and try to see and feel the worst, not by merely calling your offences by harsh names, but by calmly looking at the aggravating circumstances. While you do this, do not spend your strength in trying to feel strong emotion. You cannot feel emotion by merely trying to feel it. There is no neces

sity of prolonged terror, no need of agony of body or of mind, no need of gloom of countenance. Go, and sincerely acknowledge your sins to God, praying him to forgive you through the death and merits of Christ.

But perhaps some of you will say, "I am surprised to hear you say, that there is no need of strong agitation of mind, before we can be forgiven for sin. I am sure that there often is very strong feeling of this kind. There is terror and agony of mind, and afterwards the individual becomes a sincere Christian."

It is true, there is sometimes strong and continued agitation; nor is any possible degree of distressing fear, self-reproach, or sorrow unreasonable in one who has been brought to realize that he is so guilty as to be worthy only of hell, and that he can be saved from it by nothing less than the precious blood of Christ. Such agonizing emotions, however, are not requisite to sincere penitence, and can do nothing towards atoning for sin. The amazing change by which a sinner passes from death to life, is often wrought with a gentleness peculiar to omnipotent grace; and the soul is scarcely conscious of fear or remorse, in the fulness of love, joy, and gratitude with which it hastens to Christ.

There is often, however, a continued distress of a very. different kind: not the sorrow of humble, broken-hearted penitents grieving over their sins, but the struggle of impenitent souls convicted of their guilt, yet unwilling to yield to God and confess their sins to him. As soon as this unwillingness is gone, and they come to their God and Saviour with all their hearts, the mental suffering vanishes. I said, that if you were willing now to confess your sins to God with sincere penitence, you might at once be happy. Of course, if you are unwilling, if you see that you are sinning against him, and will not come and make peace, you then have indeed cause to tremble.

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The truth is, that God commands men everywhere to

repent." It is a notorious fact, that multitudes will not comply. When the duty of humbly confessing their sins to God is clearly brought before them, there is often so great a desire to continue in sin, that a very painful struggle continues for some time. Now this struggle is all our own fault; it is something that we add altogether; and it is displeas ing to God. He says, come to me at once. Ministers of the gospel do not urge this continued struggle, while sin is cherished in the heart: so far from desiring it are they, that they urge their hearers to repent and come at once to the Saviour, and be happy; and when any of their hearers are suffering in consequence of indecision, the pastor, so far from wishing them to continue in this state, urges them with all his power to terminate it at once, by giving up their hearts to God and to happiness. And yet, so reluctant are men to give their hearts to God, and so exceedingly common is this guilty struggle, that by the young it is often considered as a painful part of duty. They confound it with a just and needful sorrow for sin, and think they cannot become Christians without it. Some try to awaken it and continue it, and are sad because they cannot succeed. Others, who are serving their Maker, and endeavoring to grow in grace and to prepare for heaven, feel but little confidence in his sympathy or affection for them, because just before they found peace with God, sin did not make such violent and desperate efforts in their hearts as in some others, to retain its hold.

No, my reader, there is no necessity of any prolonged struggle or suffering. If the Spirit of God has led you sincerely to deplore your sins, you may confess them now, and from this moment be calm and peaceful and happy.

My readers will recollect that I mentioned, in the early part of this chapter, two points connected with confession, namely, reparation and punishment. In confessing sins to God, we have no reparation to make to him, and no punishment to suffer. We have a Saviour, and we fly to him.

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We have destroyed ourselves by sin, and we cannot be saved but by the unmerited grace of God as displayed in the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Him hath God set forth as a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." Rom. 3: 20-26. There is no other way of salvation. No obedience or suffering of ours can atone for transgression. Christ has suffered for us, and will save us if we go to him. I hope very many of my readers will see that both duty and happiness urge them to take the simple course I have endeavored to describe and illustrate, and that they will now be led to take it, and follow me through the remaining chapters of this book with hearts bent on loving and serving God.



"To whom shall we go?"

THERE is a very excellent infant-school in one of the chief towns of Switzerland, where many young children are collected under the care of a most kind and faithful superintendent, to receive moral and intellectual instruction. When a new pupil is admitted, she looks with fear and trembling upon the strange scene before her. A large open room is filled with the children standing in rows or collected in busy groups, and in the pleasant play-ground, verdant with grass and trees, many others are seen full of activity and happiness.

It is the custom, whenever a new scholar enters the school, for the teacher to collect all the children in the great room, extending them in a line around it; and then he walks into the midst, leading the little stranger by the hand, and something like the following conversation ensues.


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Here is a little girl who has come to join our school. She is a stranger, and is afraid. Will you all promise to treat her kindly?"

PUPILS. All answering together.

“Yes, sir, we will.”

TEACHER. "She has told me that she will try to be a good girl and to do her duty, but sometimes she will forget, I am afraid, and sometimes she will yield to temptation and do wrong. Now which of the older children will be her little friend, to be with her for a few days till she becomes acquainted with the school, and tell her what she ought to do, and help her to watch herself, that she may avoid doing wrong?"

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